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Your Health Care Agent: How to Choose Someone

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Even if your family is involved in helping you make medical treatment decisions, it is still important to choose one person to be your health care agent. If you want one family member to be able to make medical treatment decisions for you, appoint that person as your agent. Your family's right to make decisions for you may be limited unless you have legally appointed a health care agent.

Most states allow you to choose only one person at a time to be your health care agent. Typically, your doctor cannot be your health care agent. In some states, a person who works at the health care facility where you might be treated may not be your agent, unless you are related to the person by blood or by marriage.

You may choose:

If your state allows, choose one or two alternate agents who can fill the role if your primary agent is not available or is not able to do so.

Choosing your health care agent is an important decision. Not everyone will be comfortable taking on this responsibility, so talk openly with the person you choose before completing the process. Consider choosing someone who:


Credits for Your Health Care Agent: How to Choose Someone

Current as of: March 17, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Jean S. Kutner MD, MSPH - Geriatric Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Robin L. Fainsinger MBChB, LMCC, CCFP - Palliative Medicine


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